Sunday, May 29, 2011

"There was no self"

One night in 1977, at the age of 29, after having suffered from long periods of suicidal depression, Eckhart Tolle experienced an inner transformation. That night he awakened from his sleep, suffering from feelings of depression that were "almost unbearable," but then experienced a life-changing epiphany. Recounting the experience, Tolle says:

I couldn’t live with myself any longer. And in this a question arose without an answer: who is the ‘I’ that cannot live with the self? What is the self? I felt drawn into a void. I didn’t know at the time that what really happened was the mind-made self, with its heaviness, its problems, that lives between the unsatisfying past and the fearful future, collapsed. It dissolved. The next morning I woke up and everything was so peaceful. The peace was there because there was no self. Just a sense of presence or “beingness,” just observing and watching.

Tolle recalls going out for a walk in London the next morning, and finding that “everything was miraculous, deeply peaceful. Even the traffic." The feeling continued, and he began to feel a strong underlying sense of peace in any situation. For a period of about two years after this, he spent much of his time sitting, “in a state of deep bliss," on park benches in Russell Square, Central London, "watching the world go by.” He stayed with friends, in a Buddhist monastery, or otherwise slept rough on Hampstead Heath. His family thought him “irresponsible, even insane." Tolle changed his first name from Ulrich to Eckhart, reportedly in homage to the German philosopher and mystic, Meister Eckhart. Tolle's books on spirituality have become best-sellers.

John Constable
Hampstead Heath with a Rainbow

Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi once described Hampstead Heath, in London, as the "trigger" of the Heart Chakra of the World. It is a wild place miraculously preserved in one of the biggest cities on Earth, where William Blake would often walk.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Silence Quotes

"Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation... "
-- Jean Arp

"We can do more work in the silence than we can by moving the lips and letting the mouth make a continuous noise. That interferes with our own thinking as well as with other people's. There is a stillness in a thinker's mind; there is a quietness in a thinker's presence, where even words are entirely unnecessary."
--Robert Beesley

"Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute."
-- Josh Billings

"Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together."
--Thomas Carlyle

"Sound has spoiled the most ancient of the world's arts, the art of pantomime, and has canceled out the great beauty that is silence. "
-- Charlie Chaplin

"Silence is a true friend who never betrays."

"The more articulate somebody is, the more suspicious I am of them. I like to feel that the important things remain unsaid. "
-- Daniel Day-Lewis

"The words the happy say Are paltry melody But those the silent feel Are beautiful-- "
-- Emily Dickinson

"A properly kept silence is a beautiful thing; it is nothing less than the father of very wise thoughts."

"Let thy speech be better than silence, or be silent."
--Dionysius the Elder

"Silence is the mother of truth."
--Benjamin Disraeli

"Sometimes the silence can be like thunder. "
-- Bob Dylan

"In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in an clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

"Nothing more enhances authority than silence. It is the crowning virtue of the strong, the refuge of the weak, the modesty of the proud, the pride of the humble, the prudence of the wise, and the sense of fools."
--Charles de Gaulle

"I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind, yet, I'm ungrateful to those teachers. "
-- Kahlil Gibran

"Silence is argument carried on by other means."
-- Che Guevara

"We in the "developed" world seem to have many auditory strategies that insulate us from the presence of silence, simplicity, and solitude. When I return to Western culture after time in desert, mountain or forest, I discover how we have filled our world with a multiplicity of noises, a symphony of forgetfulness that keeps our won thoughts and realizations, feelings and intuitions out of audible range."
--Joan Halifax

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Tron Legacy

The science fiction film Tron Legacy explores Buddhist/yoga themes of non-duality (advaita) and humanity's struggle with the ego.
Jeff Bridges, plays Kevin Flynn, a character trapped inside a virtual universe, the Grid, he has initially designed, but which has taken on a life of its own. His ego self has manifested as Clu, a ruthless perfectionist control freak seeking total domination of, not only the cyber world, but the 'real' world. 
Realising that direct confrontation with Clu (ego) only strengthens him, Flynn uses meditation to integrate himself with the digital world he has created, while his companion and confidante Quorra (played by Olivia Wilde) fights Clu's minions. She is a kind of shakti figure (divine feminine active principle) who acts while Flynn rests in a state of non-action. Quorra tells Flynn's son, who has entered the Grid in order to find his father, that Flynn is trying to "remove the self from the equation". 
Wilde describes Quorra as being like Joan of Arc, a child warrior, with innocence and optimism, led by some greater power.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Alcohol and Cancer

Forget safe drinking levels - any amount of alcohol could give you cancer. Alcoholic drinks and ethanol are carcinogenic to humans and there's no evidence there's a safe consumption threshold to avoid cancer, the Cancer Council says in the Medical Journal of Australia. There's convincing evidence that alcohol is a cause of cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, bowel (in men) and breast (in women), the council says in a position statement. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of bowel cancer in women, and liver cancer, and, because it might contribute to weight gain, it could also be associated with cancers linked to excess weight and obesity, the council says. It's bad news for those justifying the occasional drink as a preventer of coronary heart disease. "The previously reported role of alcohol in reducing heart disease risk in light-to- moderate drinkers appears to have been overestimated," the council said. Drinking alcohol might have played a dominant role in defining Australian culture for more than 200 years, the council says. "It is also an important cause of illness, injury and death, whether resulting from short-term episodes of intoxication or from long-term, chronic use," it says. The only way to reduce the risk of cancer is to limit your drinks or avoid alcohol altogether.